So, how can the military community help? There seems to be a disconnect between the military community and surviving family members. When I tell people about my experience, they don’t know what to say and most comment that they don’t know if they could emotionally handle it.
After all, this is a topic that hits close to home for every servicemember and military dependent.
The first thing you should know is, despite it being a heavyhearted situation, the focus isn’t on sadness, but celebrating fallen heroes and keeping their memories alive. We often speak of resiliency in the military community, but Gold Star Families truly define it. Of course each family struggles with grief, but they’ve managed to find a way to come together, find meaning in loss and learn to laugh again. When you attend events, you can see this commonality and enduring spirit in the families.
Events don’t focus on despair, but rather celebration of their heroes’ lives.
Another question I am asked from military community is how to approach or talk to surviving family members. I’ve learned it’s not really about finding the right words, but rather just being present to show you care. After all, sometimes the family members just need someone to listen to their stories and validate their feelings. This ensures the memories of their loved ones live on and impact others. This, in a small way, can help the families feel like their servicemember’s passing has a meaningful purpose.
The most important thing to take away is the need to put away your stress and enjoy life, because everything can be taken away with a knock on the door.
After listening to family members share their experiences with grief and transitioning to an unexpected new chapter in their lives, our challenges as military dependents don’t seem as relevant anymore. The next time the movers lose a box during your PCS, the commissary is wiped out of food on payday, or your at your wits end with your kids while your spouse is in the field – step back, take a deep breath, and reflect. There are families out there that would give anything to have those experiences back.
Please contact your instillation’s community service program to find out ways you can volunteer and support our Gold Star Families.